Indigenous peoples have a deep connection to the natural environment. Take Asia, for example, many indigenous peoples practice shifting cultivation, their traditional livelihood and extremely important for their survival, their culture and their spiritual world.
Disturbingly, shifting cultivation has been criminalized in many countries. The governments say it contributes to deforestation, even when many scientific reports show that this is not the case. Shifting cultivation is a livelihood where you have many diverse sources of food growing and, at the same time, forest protection. You don’t have a monoculture, which is a typical western agricultural way. Instead, you have a very diverse agricultural system.
Shifting cultivation is rotational farming, right, so you burn forest in order to use it for planting and this burning of forest is what is being criminalized. Burning per se is seen as degrading the forest.
Of course, if the period where you let the forest grow is shorter, it becomes unsustainable. However, the reason for it becoming shorter is not because indigenous peoples change their practice. It’s because they are getting more and more encroached on and land is being taken away from them. They are being pushed into smaller areas. What is making this practice unsustainable is the pressure on their livelihoods coming from the outside.
It’s the same thing with pastoralism. Pastoralists in East-Africa, for example, have often adapted to climate change by being mobile. Mobility is their way of coping with harsh climatic circumstances. But because protected areas and land owned by big farmers grow, their mobility is becoming limited. Today, it’s really hard for them to adapt.